Foundation embraces grid

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation says Oracle 9i RAC on Linux was the right combination for them. Now the organization is taking steps to get closer to Oracle's grid strategy.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, one of the early adopters of Oracle 9i real application clusters (RAC) on Linux, will upgrade to Oracle 10g by the close of 2004 -- and step closer to Oracle's grid computing model.

Millions of visitors frequent the foundation's Web site, looking to browse over 30 million records to find information on ancestors who passed through the port between 1892 and 1924. As a result, minimizing downtime has been a top priority for the organization.

We're pricing out the hardware now. First we'll implement the blade technology and then move to 10g.
Sam Daniel
IT DirectorEllis Island Foundation

When the site launched in April 2001, the foundation ran Oracle 8i with an active -- and backup -- server, said Sam Daniel, director of IT at the foundation. When the primary server sometimes failed, visitors were stuck staring at a blank screen for several minutes -- much too long if the foundation expected them to return to the site, Daniel said.

Daniel and his team considered Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase, but decided on RAC on Linux. The flexibility to add more nodes as the foundation increased its archives was one of the top-selling points, Daniel said.

Now Daniel's IT team is planning a move to  Oracle 10g. Installing a blade environment into the system will further improve efficiencies and save on maintenance costs, Daniel said.

"We wanted to make the end-user experience much more pleasant," Daniel said. "Being a nonprofit, we agreed that Linux was the most cost-effective alternative, and now the next step is moving to a grid environment."

Oracle promises that grid computing will help customers build large-scale computing capacity from inexpensive, standardized components, such as clusters of server blades and rack-mounted storage. Instead of adding nodes to the existing cluster as the workload increases, Oracle 10g will allocate system resources based on need.

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"We would not lose capacity at all and that's what is so attractive to us right now," Daniel said. "We're pricing out the hardware now. First we'll implement the blade technology and then move to 10g."

While the move seems like a natural step for the Ellis Island Foundation, standards need to be established so a grid can be used across heterogeneous environments, said Noel Yuhanna, a senior industry analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. Oracle recently formed an Enterprise Grid Alliance with its partners to establish standards.

"Oracle's strategy has been to focus mainly on Oracle databases and other Oracle technologies," Yuhanna said. "But to make it work, they're realizing that it's a combination of different technology stacks that has to be grid compliant."

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